Jonathan Fitchett Tributes Only Heighten the Puzzle of His Murder
Years after the wind has swept away the last of the flowers, a patch of concrete outside a retail unit in Prescot will remain a place both hideous and sacred to hundreds.
In this spot four men punched, kicked and then abandoned 22-year-old Jonathan Fitchett. In this spot police and paramedics arrived to find him unconscious, and it was from there they took him to Whiston Hospital, where he died the next afternoon.
The murder shocked ordinary Prescotians, but the memory of what they heard will fade eventually. It will never fade for the dozens of friends and family members who left flowers, messages and personal items in memory of Jonathan.
Pictures of happier times sit in the centre of the memorial. In one, a friend’s arm clasps Jonathan tight as they and three others pose for the camera. Two are shirtless, the others in T-shirts. A lads’ holiday, maybe – one that no one in the photo will now forget.
Another shows just Jonathan, his mouth open joyfully wide, in a frame bearing the words “Baby, I love you so much.”
Others show him with his girlfriend, Rachel, one with a child in his lap. Perhaps the same boy whose offering was a stick-man drawing with the message “Goodbye.”
In one note, a family friend recalls the last time she saw Jonathan. She visited the house earlier in the week and found him asleep on a chair in the back garden. She didn’t wake him.
Personal artefacts decorate this shrine, too.
There’s a Coke can and a personalised Coke bottle, the kind you have to turn the Tesco aisle upside-down to find because they seem to have labels with every name but yours.
Three cigarettes are taped to the ground. A Liverpool scarf is wrapped around a bollard.
[Part of this article has been removed in response to a personal request.]
There are stories buried deep in these tributes that passers-by can only guess about.
And there are many passers-by. It’s early evening when I visit, and few walk past without stopping to survey the scene. Some stay longer to read messages.
Perhaps, like me, they haven’t made sense of what’s happened. They’ve read the papers and heard the contradictory rumours and thought through the possibilities to try and figure out why this well-loved young man was beaten to death in the middle of the day in a busy shopping complex.
Mourners have turned to sentiments of the kind that seem cliché until you’re met with the sort of tragedy for which no words of your own can make sense.
“Only the good die young.”
“Heaven has gained an angel.”
“God always takes the best.”
Few of us know why this happened. The response of those who knew and loved Jonathan has only heightened the puzzle.